By Daniel Drezner
In the wake of Michael Richards' on-stage meltdown, I see that Jesse Jackson, U.S. Rep Maxine Waters, and the usual suspects are clamoring this morning for an entertainment boycott of the "N-word."
According to the AP, "Asked about free-speech issues, Jackson said the word is 'unprotected.'" Jackson is also calling for a boycott of the DVD release of Seinfeld's 7th season.
According to the Los Angeles Times' Valerie Reitman, "'We're not trying to penalize anyone,' Waters said at a news conference at the Los Angeles Sentinel newspaper, 'but don't use the N-word, no matter who you are, whether you're black, white, young or old.'"
The only reason I bring up any of this silliness is that Reitman's story contains one of those rare quotes that manages to crystallize the situation so perfectly that there is no need to read anything else on the matter. Without further ado, here it is:
Joe Hicks, vice president of the civil rights organization Community Advocates Inc., called the move to ban the word "just silly and outrageous." Outside the stray white bigot, the N-word is pervasive only in black communities and among hip-hop and rap artists, "not in the business world, not in the American court system, not in the government."
Hicks, an African American and former director of the Los Angeles Human Relations Commission, said Waters and others shouldn't be trying to alter the course of contemporary urban culture and accused them of "racial opportunism."
"Here's this guy [Richards], who's been nearly out of work with virtually no career to speak of, who's hand-grenaded his career in front of the whole world